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Government And Religion Essay

1045 words - 5 pages

It is believed that America was a country founded on religious principles, however as the country aged, the concept of separation of church and state was created. This notion was meant to prevent religious ideas and practices from infiltrating the government. Although many people today accept separation of church and state as normal and effective since its implementation, the truth is the U.S. government has still had an influence in society’s perception of religion. In the nation’s history, the Government has controlled and encouraged certain religious beliefs in many explicit, yet subtle, ways. For example, the Government has had a large hand in monitoring religious beliefs in the army; the effects of this can be seen in the case of the four chaplains stamp. In addition, during the consensus era, the U.S. felt pressured by the circumstances in other countries to encourage good morals in the form of religion. Furthermore, the government manipulated religion to create unity within the country and to instil nationalism into Americans. Although the nation’s government claims to be independent from religion, America’s history illustrates how the government has used religion to shape the country.
The American army is a unique and rare opportunity where many nationalities, beliefs, and ideals come together in one place and must unite for a greater cause. This diverse population, which reflects the larger American population, allowed for the government to experiment on the management of religion for the nation. The Army consisted of many different religious views and chaplains were used to facilitate and regulate these religions. During the WWII, the 1940’s, the majority of people in the military were either Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish. Three diverse religions that were united with the help of the government. One way the government brought about unison, was with the story of the four chaplains. The four chaplains story is about four chaplains in the army, two Catholics, one Protestant, and one Jew, that “[gave]…. [their] lives in sacrifice to other servicemen”.(Lawson 2)Originally, the story was used by the US Army “ to legitimize the usefulness of the chaplains in a military context of danger”. (Lawson 2) The government wanted to justify its regulation of religion in the army with the bitter-sweet tragedy of the four chaplains. However, the misfortunate tale quickly gained “cultural and religious significance”. (Lawson 2) The idea of three religions uniting encouraged the country to look past its religious differences and instead join together, like the four chaplains. Thus, from the story of the four chaplains, came about the “Judeo-Christian” tradition. This “Judeo-Christian” idea focused on the similarities between Christianity and Judaism, instead of the differences between the religions, in and attempt to bring the country together. The four chaplains story was an unfortunate event that the government used and manipulated to encourage the...

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